To the editors:
[Re: "UFO Hunters," September 25]
Did Ray Palmer, three days before the event, put Ken Arnold up to hoaxing his famous #1 "flying saucer" report?
Better question: did John Keel really write so poorly Vicki Quade got this idea from him?
Actually, Arnold's sighting: 24 June 1947.
Mid-July 1947: Arnold got Palmer's request for an account. Arnold (never having read Amazing Stories) obliged.
Palmer then offered expenses if Arnold (who flew around selling fire-control equipment) made a side trip to check out Harold Dahl's claim: an aerial object dropped fragments on his Tacoma harbor patrol boat on 21 June.
29 June 1947: Arnold went. He decided Dahl and his alleged boss, Fred Crisman, weren't even harbor patrolmen. But odd events--someone reported every conversation in Arnold's hotel room to a newspaper, but nobody could find the bug; two Air Force Intelligence officers died in the crash of a plane, a box of Dahl's "fragments" aboard, though they could have parachuted; just f'rinstance--spooked Arnold, and he stayed spooked.
Arnold's accounts: his and Palmer's The Coming of the Saucers (1952); and in the Proceedings of the 1977 International UFO Congress. Quade can find 'em in the CUFOS library.
Ray Palmer: an odd, tough (much surgery, much pain) little man. Way I figger, he conducted empirical experiments with the minor mythologies "explaining" anomalies--even in Amazing Stories days--mostly by interpreting rather than inventing "data" himself. In '47, he was pushing the "Shaver Mystery," a paranoid ancient-astronaut thing--Air Force blamed him morally, for providing the market Dahl and Crisman aimed at. (Oh, D&C confessed.)
A historian not too snooty to research Palmer's calculated antics might learn something.
Point of this: Arnold's first sighting was of nine flat, reflective objects. They flew with an exaggerated fluttering, skipping motion "like a saucer, if you skipped it across water." They were constant in number. Arnold was always hesitant about catching their exact shape as they fluttered; eight had semicircular leading edges and blunt, squatly pointed trailing edges. One was a crescent with a little "peak" between the horns.
They were seen against sky, snow, forest, rock--and they flew before some landforms and behind others, which nails the distance down. Arnold timed them from Mount Rainier to Mount Adams; the shortest (peak-to-peak) distance means of speed of (1947 gasp!) about 1,300 mph.
Lemme tell you what they were:
1 was a mirage. 2 was a hallucination. 3 was snow blowing over ridges. 4 was a conventional aircraft. 5 was a weather balloon. 6 was a reflection in Arnold's window. 7 was a "floater"--a spot in his eye. 8 (the crescent) was a hoax. 9 was a glowing plasma (generated by seismic processes).
All these have been seriously proposed as the explanation of Arnold's sighting--but since correcting #8, I'm beginning to doubt the others.
Which shows the value of CUFOS gathering and preserving.
Even that symbol, the "first" sighting still asks us: what the goddamnhell's going on?
Frank John Reid